Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things. (Proverbs 23:31-33)
It would be unwise to get off on a tangent with this verse, but the least you can say is that Solomon doesn’t mince his words. The bottom line is this: if you get caught in the trap of alcohol (or drugs or food or any other unhealthy addiction), you will pay for it in the end. It is a matter of control.
But isn’t it interesting that the same word picture is used by Paul in the New Testament? The issue of control extends to a person being controlled by the Holy Spirit. We read in Ephesians 5:15-18:
Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is: Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
Bob Dylan had a short-lived conversion to Christianity in the late 1970s, and wrote a song, You Gotta Serve Somebody. The fact that he slipped back into a life of fame, drugs and alcohol probably means that it will get lost in some historic time warp, but the words told a tale that repeats itself; either you control the appetites of your sinful nature, or you will be controlled.
The Proverbs speak of a control that is obtained through seeking wisdom, understanding, and God’s path. This same kind of control is spoken in the New Testament using the imagery of being under the control of God’s indwelling Spirit; not to make us perfect or without sin, but to give us forgiveness and replicate the character of Christ in us. In both of these (wisdom and the Holy Spirit), God offers power for living and a hope to live our lives under control.